Omaha Westside sophomore Caleb Benning’s recruitment continues to gain steam.
Sunday, the 5-foot-11 1/2, 185-pound athlete announced an offer from Vanderbilt, his fourth power conference offer, following an unofficial visit to Nashville for the Commodore spring game. Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota have previously offered.
“It was great, Nashville is really nice and I only got to see a small glimpse of it,” Bening said of Vandy. “I have a really good relationship with (defensive backs coach) Dan Jackson. He wants to get me back up there soon. It was a great visit, the facilities are great and the people are great.”
On April 2, Benning spent time in Iowa City. His relationship with the Hawkeye staff is growing, and he said he enjoyed watching a Hawkeye spring practice.
“It was great,” he said of his time at Iowa. “I’m a big fan of Levar Woods (special teams coordinator) and Tyler Barnes (recruiting director). I love talking with coach (Kirk) Ferentz and I see why he is so respected in the Big Ten. It is a good program and their new facility is extremely nice.”
Iowa has had recent success recruiting Nebraska, see Noah Fant and Bellevue West grad Keagan Johnson. Benning was able to spend some time reconnecting with Johnson on his recent visit.
“I actually talked to Keagan for a while at practice,” he said. “He talked about how it is different but once you make it past your first year it is great and he is definitely glad he chose Iowa.”
Benning’s tie to Nebraska is an obvious one for those who follow NU football. His father, Damon, a running back for NU from 1993-96, played an integral part in NU’s ’94 and ’95 national championship teams.
The pull to Nebraska is strong, but he’s not a shoo-in for Nebraska.
“I am completely open to anything and everything,” the younger Benning said. “There is a lot of outside noise, Husker fans are great and he tells me he won’t force me to do anything I don’t want to do. I have his support and my family’s support. I definitely don’t feel obligated to go to NU, and I am definitely keeping my options open.”
The proximity to Lincoln has allowed him to spend time on campus multiple times in the last year. Benning attended a spring practice in Lincoln recently along with a junior day event in February. He also watched NU play Michigan for a game day visit last fall.
His relationship with the NU coaching staff is growing, specifically with new receivers coach Mickey Joseph and coach Scott Frost.
“It is a great relationship,” Benning said of NU. “I have a good relationship with coach Frost and coach Joseph. I have been up there a few times and I feel really comfortable talking to them.”
Benning’s relationship with Minnesota is growing although he hasn’t been on campus yet. He is likely to make a trip soon.
“I just got invited for a practice and I may try to get up there (Minnesota),” he said. “There hasn’t been much conversation. They haven’t been able to talk to me directly through the dead period.”
Those four schools aren’t the only power conference schools interested. Stanford is scheduled to make a trip to the Metro on Wednesday. The staff has told him they plan to make a stop by Westside.
“Notre Dame is another school that wants me to go to a camp the first week of June,” he said. “I might try and go down there. Washington is another that has expressed interest.”